Today’s post is inspired by Jodi Stone over at Heart Like a Dog; her recent Follow Up Friday Post in author’s note to A Plea To Rescue Groups; Jodi stated that some people may not know what to ask a breeder when purchasing a puppy. Well this sparked an idea for a two part post from a breeder’s (all be it small breeder) perspective on what someone should ask and what a breeder may ask a potential puppy buyer. A bit of advise I would give to anybody looking to purchase a pure breed puppy is Do Your Research first, I can not stress this enough. Familiarize yourself with the characteristics of the breed, the breed standard if they have one and any other information you can Google or check out at your local library. This will at least get you started and although everything you read is not always fact the breeder will help you sort that out but it should give you and idea if it is a breed you may want to own. I am only giving you my feelings and opinions on this and I am sure there are many others out there that have differing opinions or maybe some things I didn’t think of. So here goes…


1. Can I visit your dogs/kennel? Are the parent’s on site? Can I see them?

Most breeders are happy to have you come for a visit but please call ahead to schedule this with them. They should be able to show you at least the mother unless unforeseen circumstances have occurred (death). What you are looking for is the temperament and overall structure of the dog. The mother will be a bit apprehensive around her puppies but by herself she should be friendly and in good shape, remember she has just had a litter and nursed them for about the first four weeks or so of their lives so she may look a little haggard but overall you should see a healthy friendly dog.

2. What are the congenital defects for this breed?

Let’s face it every breed has some kind of defect and we all know there is NO perfect dog. A responsible breeder will be able to tell you all the defects and explain them.

3. What health clearances have been done on the parent’s? Can I see the clearances?

This question goes along with #2 and a responsible breeder will be able to show you the health clearances on both the Sire and Dam. With the wonderful world of the internet you can look up information on dogs on many different info sites such as The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) which will tell you what health clearances have been done and the results in most cases, however I will let you know that if it was not an OFA recognized test or results were not sent in they will not have it listed. I found this to be true when I was researching pedigrees for the stud dog, just means you have to do little more research. You can view Riva’s page at OFA here just to give you an idea.

4. Do you have a pedigree for the Sire and Dam?

Have the breeder go over it if you have questions. It is important to be able to look at the parentage of both the Sire and Dam to see where it all started so to speak. I do not want to give the impression that the pedigree is the most important thing, the WHOLE dog is most important but I wanted to touch on pedigree’s a bit. I could probably do a whole post on this topic alone because there is so much you can learn from them but as with everything else they are a tool to use not a deciding factor on whether two dogs should be bred.

5. Where were the puppies raised?

You want to hear that the puppies have been exposed to all different noises and sounds such as the vacuum, pots and pans banging around, outside noises such as cars, sirens etc. This way you know your pup will not freak out at every little sound.

6. What vaccines have the puppies received?

A responsible breeder will have this information for you and be able to tell you what vaccines were given and when.

7. Have the puppies been wormed?

Again responsible breeders will have this information and be able to tell you what wormer was used and how often.

8. What are you feeding them?

This just gives you and idea of what their nutrition has been and the opportunity to discuss it with the breeder if you have something else you would like to feed.

9. Have they been socialized? How?

Remember these are young pups that have not completed their vaccine series so they most likely have not been off the property so what I look for here is have they been handled by more than just the breeder. I had people of all different ages and genders over to play with and interact periodically with my pups just so they were used to strangers.

10. Do you do any type of aptitude testing?

There are some aptitude tests that some breeders may do on their puppies for example the VOLHARD PUPPY APTITUDE TEST (PAT) is common and was the one I used. Remember that this is just a guideline and nothing replaces the knowledge of the breeder and their overall critique of each puppy, after all they have spent the first eight weeks with the pups.

Not all breeders do this so don’t let this count as a negative if they say No; make yourself familiar with the breed you are looking at and the information contained in the test and judge the puppies for yourself when you see and interact with them. A good breeder will question you on what kind of personality you want your puppy to have, what you are going to be doing with your pup e.g.,  jogging, hunt tests, conformation, obedience, companion, and so forth to assist you in choosing the pup that will best fit your lifestyle. Yes the breeder will assist you in choosing a puppy, they will not let you come in and just take one home without discussing in length your lifestyle and the pups personalities first. Responsible breeder’s take placing puppies very seriously and will always put the welfare of their puppies first. They want to make sure it is a good fit for you and the pup.

11. Do you have a contract or guarantee?

This is a very subjective area and every breeder has their own thoughts on this. They are usually designed to protect you the buyer, the breeder and first and foremost the puppy. I did have a bill of sale/contract with my puppies that not only explained what I as the breeder was responsible for but it also stated what I expected from the buyer. It explained whether the dog was being sold on full registration or limited registration, health check by my vet, etc. If you read the contract and it is not something you can live with discuss it with the breeder and if they do not want to change it then look else where for a pup or be prepared to abide by the contract. As I stated before a responsible breeder is concerned with the welfare of their puppies first so they try to protect them through a contract.

12. Price?

Now you may have noticed that I saved this for last, there are a couple of reasons. First prices can vary from state to state so familiarize yourself with the area you are looking at buying a puppy from. When I was asked how much are my puppies before asking anything else it made me feel like the person was not concerned about the welfare of the puppy and money was the only concern; I will be honest some of the people who inquired about price first hung up once I told them, so that to me says a lot about them. When I look at my dogs I do not see dollar signs!

Second if you have done your research you already know some what of a price range for a quality dog and sure there will be inferior breeders out there that can sell you a dog at a much lower price but that should send up a red flag to you as the puppy buyer, ask yourself why are these puppies so much cheaper, then go through your questions to the breeder and you will probably answer that one on your own. So my advise is save this question for last because if you what you see and the answers to your questions are not what you are looking for then the price doesn’t matter anyway.

Well there you have some of the questions I think are important for a puppy buyer to be asking a breeder, I hope this is helpful and don’t forget to watch for part 2, What A Breeder May Ask You.



33 thoughts on “What Puppy Buyers Should Be Asking The Breeder

  1. As you know, I’m on the rescue side of dog-acquisition. Yet I have to applaud you for being a responsible breeder and sharing this information for those folks who, for whatever reason, are not interested in adopting dogs from shelters and rescues. Most people have no idea how to go about getting the right dog, whether from a breeder or a shelter, and the points you make here are a great guide.


        1. You are too kind!

          I am fortunate to know many many responsible breeders all across the United States and other countries as well. It is unfortunate however that those people exist that do not spay and neuter because they want their children to experience the miracle of birth or they just don’t want to and let their animals roam, puppy mills, pet stores, unethical breeders just to mention a few. I think they are huge contributors to the over population problem and tend to give people the wrong impression of what a real honest responsible breeder is.

          Thank you so much for your wonderful compliments, sharing your thoughts and stopping by.


  2. This was very interesting, wish more breeders did the same like you. Fortunately I was coming from a good breeder, but we heared things about some breeders which make us very sad & angry…


  3. We are probably a breeder’s worst nightmare because we have about a billion more questions. lol My first question would be what type of pup do you hope to produce with this breeding? I want to know the breeder’s vision. Sometimes I like them to point me to a dog that is their “ideal”. Again breeder vision.

    I do think price is important especially in this day and age. Someone who is looking for a well bred hunting dog may not be able to afford an expensive show or field dog. IMO the best breeders inquire beyond price and are flexible on price/payment terms if a buyer would provide that dog with a good active home over someone that can plunk down the cash but may not give the dog a great life because they work 100 hours a week.

    See breeder’s worst nightmare…lol.

    So which tests are not OFA? IMO the most important ones for Chessies hips and eyes which you can find on OFA. Are there others that OFA doesn’t recognize?


    1. Actually I would not consider you a breeders worst nightmare at all, what I see is someone who has done their homework and knows what they are looking for. I think the key here is to be comfortable with your breeder and they comfortable with you because it is a life long relationship with the dog.

      If I gave the impression price is not important that was not my intent but as you said it would not be the first question you ask. I was trying to decide as I was writing this post just how detailed to make it and had thought of hitting on the the price/payment terms but thought I wouldn’t go in such detail especially since I can only speak for myself for that and can’t make such a broad statement for all breeders. Some of what you touch on as far as the breeders idea of what would be a good home will follow in the second part of this post…so keep a look out 🙂

      The tests I refer to are the ones for DM as far OFA recognizing because there are some other companies out there offering the test at a cheaper price and at quantity so those are not automatically posted. And actually for any of the tests that OFA does do it is still your option to have the results publicized so that is why I strongly encourage potential puppy buyers to discuss this with the breeder and have them verify it with the actual paperwork if necessary and besides not everyone is familiar with the different websites they can use to find information about dogs. And as always if the owner does not turn in the x-rays, etc. to OFA then there are no results or verification listed. I ran in to this when I was searching a pedigree, it wasn’t that the hips were not x-rayed, in short there was a owner change and the previous owner refused to surrender the paperwork back to the breeder, however with a little more digging I was able to find out that this particular dog was x-rayed at the age of 12 and the vet said those were the best hips he had ever seen on an old dog. I think some people miss the point of what the tests are for, they are a tool to decide on what would be a good breeding not to dismiss dogs from the breeding program. I read a good article on Lisa Van Loo’s site, have you seen it? If not here is the link, it is Chessie specific as far as the breeding pool.

      Great comments!!


      1. LOL when I said it was my first question, I meant that it was the first question we ask, not that it should be first on any list.

        DM is not a test that would make or break my decision to buy a pup. I do not think that test is the end all or be all. I also would steer clear of tests offered by labs that did not develop them. Those can give false results.

        I have read Lisa’s article many times. I understand what she is saying especially as it relates to polygenic diseases. That is where pedigree clearances come into play. I can understand that some dogs way back when may not have submitted hip x-rays, but personally, I would not buy a dog where both parents do not have clear hips. With hips you need as many “good” genes as possible which imo is the purpose of obtaining that clearance. I understand it is not a guarantee.


        1. hmmm, that was just an example about submitting x-ray’s but I am sure it happens even today and considering that you can not submit until they are 2 years of age there are other factors that play in how the hips may look such as environmental causes. I myself would agree that DM tests are not the end all or be all however, in my opinion neither are the others, they are a tool to use in breeding decisions and if we were to base those decisions solely on passing scores from every test for every dog we would in our breed greatly diminish our gene pool and be omitting dogs that have a lot to offer our breed. I like to look at the whole dog not just test scores because as we all know those can be wrong. My number one thing I look at first is temperament, then go down my list of priorities. I think that is the bottom line of what we are both saying here, it is what each of us hold as our priorities for a dog that we can live with.
          Great discussion!


  4. Great and important post! I think the contract is very important, it shows how much the breeder really stands behind their pups. I see a lot of questionable contracts come through the vet that leave me questioning if the new puppy buyers even read it all the way through!


  5. I loved this post Misty and thank you for the shout out! While I tend to shout, “rescue, rescue” I recognize that is not the route for all.

    I love to hear of responsible breeders such as yourself, who care about their puppies and would NEVER, EVER think of selling them in a pet store!! I wonder if the breeder has the option of adding in training? What kind of training will be provided to the puppy?

    As we both know, training is key. 🙂

    I’m looking forward to part 2, even though I would probably never buy from a breeder. But I have to tell you I was doing some research and saw golden/labs advertised. This is the breed that my Sampson is and if ever I were to buy from a breeder, that would be the dog. 🙂

    Thank you again for the shout out!


  6. Such invaluable information. Wish I’d seen this before buying Henry. Not that anything’s wrong with him, it’s just that I could have been better informed and more knowledgeable about his history, had I known what to ask. Thanks!


  7. This is my third time trying to answer because I have tendency to write a book. You have had great discussions also. As far as purchasing you need to do research and know what is important in that breed and what you want in a dog. Second all those questions were easily answered by my breeder and should be; a good breeder wants their dogs to go to the right people. People who will raise them to be happy, healthy and loved. I want to pay for a dog that will be healthy and that I will not lose in the first few years due to bad breeding, diseases that could have been prevented. My breeder also requires that if for some reason you cannot keep the dog it must be returned to her so she can find it a good home not just sold to anyone. (I tried to shorten this so if I left out something I’m sorry, I am not capable of giving a short answer on the importance of healthy well bred dogs). When I wanted My Newfs I looked for a long time to find one of the best breeders for the Health, temperament, and physical capability of performing the tasks for which they are bred.


  8. Great post!!! It is amazing what ppl will ask when they are looking for a puppy. Will they chew on things is a favorite… um.. yeah they are a puppy….. do they bring in a lot of dirt with them is another…. do they bark is another…. I had someone get mad at me for I do all our shots except rabies and they thought the vet should be the only ones doing them…. oh and I love when they first ask the price and immediately offer half….. I usually hang up the phone then….

    Despite all that seeing those pups from birth and living the adventure of life and seeing them open their eyes, walk, run, growl, bark and everything else they do the first time is amazing….. giving them to their new forever home is the hardest part….. we always ask ppl to send us pictures and update us…. most do. 🙂


    1. Thank you for your comment, I thought I was the only one who thought like that 😉 I don’t mind being asked the price but I just wouldn’t lead off with that question. And oh yes had a couple of those that thought they could barter. I do love updates and so very much appreciate them!

      Totally agree, rearing those puppies and seeing the first of everything is unbelievable and I really can not even put in to words how I felt about the whole thing…I laughed, I cried and I tried to document with photos and this blog of course the whole thing.

      Take Care My Friend


  9. Great and important post! So many important pieces that you brought up, and that were brought up in follow up discussion! It saddens me how many people have the very wrong impression of what breeders can be…and then all the people who think that they should breed just because they “paid so much to get our pure bred puppy, we just want to make a little money back”….ey ey ey!

    Health testing is such a great tool, but so misunderstood at the same time. So many things to love about this post and all the comments…I could have just “like”, “like”, “liked” away! 🙂


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